Dreaming of a Gaming Laptop

Ever since my son was born, I have dreamed of a gaming laptop. Having a desktop is great, but the chances of me actually having a moment to sit there and use it have been pretty slim over the last year. I’m more likely to be found on the floor so I can be within easy reach of my crawling little one than sitting on any actual furniture. At night time I’m still watching over him, and the desktop doesn’t exactly lend itself to portability.

I’ve been trying to find a reasonably priced laptop for some time, but I also want to make sure it can handle a few specifics. What is it that I’m looking for?

Cost effective. I don’t want to make a big purchase when it’s just going to be completely outdated and unable to upgrade and won’t play the games I have in mind any longer. If I can’t upgrade parts of it I would like to be able to at least know it handles what’s out there today pretty well, and should last at least 5 years.

Temperature control / cooling system: I want a laptop that can actually handle games without setting my house on fire. I say this because I’ve had a laptop in the past that just got SO warm I felt like I needed to use it on a tray of ice in order for anything to work and be comfortable. The internal fans used to trigger on and it felt like an airplane was trying to take off. I wasn’t playing on high settings, either. They were pretty basic.

Where some people may care about the look and design – I don’t. I want functionality and I don’t mind paying for that functionality if I think it’s got real value to it.

Battery life is somewhat important but it’s something I can do with just an hour or two of. I don’t need something to run for 15+ hours before needing a charge.

For those of you who are gaming with a laptop, what did you find that works well for you? What are your requirements? Have suggestions / tips / hints for me (as I’m completely new to this sort of shopping)? Let me know in comments! As always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself.

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5 Comments

  1. I haven’t had a desktop for so long I can’t remember..!

    I had an Alienware laptop before Dell got ahold of them. It was great. I had a second one after Dell got ahold of them and it was a problem-ridden piece of shit that eventually fried itself in my lap. Never again.

    My experience with ASUS is not quite that bad but still enough that I will never buy another one. Cheap construction, cheap and flaky hardware. Skip.

    I currently game with an MSI Dominator Pro and I love it. Solid machine, well-built, excellent ongoing performance. I will probably use this computer until it falls apart in my lap.

    Buy the most souped-up version of whatever laptop you choose that you can afford, and if the next tier up is only a few hundred more than your budget, break your budget for it. You will be happier the longer you can stave off hitting the performance wall on a laptop as far as games it will play comfortably.

  2. Atheren

    I bought a new gaming laptop before we went on a trip. It cost more than I was hoping for, but I added a gaming mouse and Office so that added in. I love the laptop, it is so light. I’m not finding it to get too warm, but I do have a lap stand if needed that even has a cooling fan. I don’t care for the stand though, and bought it for a previous laptop that was heavy and hot. The touch is so light on the keys, nice for me who still can’t type. -500 to Dexterity! https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-gl502vm-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i7-12gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-gtx-1060-1tb-hard-drive-black/5712362.p?skuId=5712362

  3. My main game machine for a few years was a Sager notebook (http://www.sagernotebook.com/home.php) and I was pretty happy with it. The one I bought was a brick, 17″ and almost 9 pounds.

    My current pc gaming box is a circa 2013 computer I ordered from Portatech (http://portatech.com/). I like Portatech since I’m lazy these days and don’t fully build my own computers anymore. ;)

    I’m kind of tempted to upgrade to a notebook again, and am eyeing a Razer (https://www.razerzone.com/gaming-laptops). The one issue with gaming notebooks is the graphics cards generally can’t be upgraded. But the Razer support an external graphics card via a Thunderbolt enclosure, called the Razer Core. Hm… need to research that again, all the links seem to lead to refurbished Razer Cores, maybe they are doing a product refresh?

  4. Zaraia

    P.S. Sorry – really didn’t mean to make that as long as that came out.. :(

  5. Zaraia

    I’ve been using an Asus G-series laptop for gaming for 5-7 years or so – two of them, actually, in that time period, but that’s because the first got a little “flukey” with recognizing hard drives well after the warranty was out, so got another, (the first is still being used in my house, though, and is a nice backup whenever I need).

    Some of the nice things about it:
    1) It’s got a mighty big screen – 17.3/18.3″ – 1080p+
    2) It’s got a fairly strong dedicated video card, (my current one is probably 3 yrs old or so and has an Nvidia 970M, so still running most, if not all games on Ultra/Epic),
    3) You can get a decent configuration for ~$1200-1500, (you can configure them all the way up to $2600+, but I certainly didn’t need that and I’ve played plenty of MMO’s, Overwatch, Smite, etc :) – have even played Paragon and other UE4 games without issue), and
    4) Exactly what you mentioned – it’s got absolutely _fabulous_ cooling – two big ports out the back with two big fans, one to cool the CPU, the other the GPU, (the newest one can even come with a plugin liquid cooler if you’re really nuts on cooling! ;) ). This was really important to me in that I specifically burned out / overheated my prior 3 laptops before this one, so not ever having to worry about heat while gaming is huge to me. :)
    5) It’s got a really nice keyboard, which I very much appreciate.
    6) Nvidia has it’s GeForce software that auto-downloads and configures all your graphics settings for a ton of games. While not every one I’ve played – i.e. I used to play a lot of Aion until a year or two ago, and Aion’s not covered – most others are, (WoW, TSW, SWTOR, Overwatch, etc, etc) or soon turn up. Can’t tell you how much I like not having to mess with settings, and have never been disappointed by the results. :)

    Some things to keep in mind:
    1) The other side of that big screen – it’s big – as in, really big! :) Think of it more like a (slightly) lighter desktop that you move back and forth rather than as anything even approaching a Macbook, etc. Doesn’t really bother me as I’ve got it on a board with a mouse pad and mouse, so just move the whole contraption from room to room as I want to, (and then just set it on my lap, usually) but it’s definitely big. I think they’re making 15″ versions that have similar specs nowadays, but don’t think they have the dual exhaust ports, so since I’m worried about heat, I’d probably still go for the larger one, but YMMV.
    2) As suggested in 1 – it’s heavy – probably 8.5-9 lbs or so? So, if you’re looking for something lighter, this won’t be the laptop for you.
    3) The battery life is pretty terrible if you have it set not to drop performance when it’s unplugged, (i.e. if I wanted to game using its embedded video card instead of the Nvidia, I would have bought something much smaller! :) ). Probably something like 1.5-2 hrs or so hours or so, tops. Good enough for random trips here and there, but definitely not going to work on long flights and such.
    4) Related to #3 – on my newer one, (the G751) they changed it so you can’t just buy a second battery and swap it in for longer duration. On my older one, (the G73) you could, which was nice, so I used to keep a second battery and 3-4 hrs total was much more than enough for everything I needed to do.
    5) It’s got this funky anti-fingerprint rubberish coating on it which, yes, does keep it from showing fingerprints, but instead, just has it show large smudges which always look really gross, so be ready to have to clean it fairly frequently, (every couple of days / once a week).

    Think that’s most of what you need to know. If you need anything more, feel free to ask!

    P.S. And keeping my fingers crossed for you with the kiddo. Was there myself more than a few years back, so know how challenging that can be. On the up side, with luck, no one and nothing will add as much to your life as that little bundle you’ve got, so enjoy! :)

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